Thursday, February 18, 2010
We've been staying at Heritage House in the old section of Ahmedabad. Find our host's blog by googling Heritage House Ahmedabad (I tried to copy the link here but it didn't paste). This has been an AMAZING 4 days with this family. We've been guests in every sense of the word--they've incorporated us into their space with great grace. It's an extended family in a couple of old houses which have been made into one, and their cousins and other relatives are next door sharing the same entrance courtyard. We've eaten great Gujerati food in the kitchen after watching it being prepared. I have even had a lesson in rolling out chappati. The textiles here have been absolutely fabulous. Our tour escort, Vicky, has a friend here who has been our local "guide". Mala and her sister Bela also run a textile studio with tailors, pressers, and hand-stitchers. We had a great visit today seeing their design processes, samples and the final products. On Tuesday and Wednesday we drove north of the city to visit weavers in villages weaving intricate single and double ikat and mashru cloth. Most of the looms are in the main rooms of their houses and are "pit" looms. And in one home the wife demonstrated how she spins wool, while her husband showed us his weaving. The work is very much separated along gender lines--the women do much of the prep work while the men do the actual weaving. One of the most spectacular workshops was in Patan with the Savli famiy who are the only weavers of Patola double ikat. They have a website which I haven't checked yet. Today we stayed in town and shopped--there is a splendid book store specializing in Indian art books, particularly textiles, and I was helpfully escorted by auto rickshaw by the owner's son to the nearest ATM so I could pay for my purchase. Our final stop was at a stupendous fabric store and I had difficulty buying only two pieces of cotton. There was an excellent selection of block printed cotton and silk using natural dyes, and fortuitously the printer was in the store--he lives in north west Gujerat, near the border with Pakistan, which is quite far.